Gratitude. Noun: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Yes, I realise it’s been overdone a bit recently, but this morning I woke and was
filled with it. You see, I’d slept for eight and a half hours, with only one quick wake up when Zac barked at something. I usually sleep for far fewer than five hours, so last night was heaven-sent. No pill, no hot milk, no relaxing bath (I don’t find them relaxing at all), no boring bit of book on statistics or something—just a warm bed, a wheat pack on a sore bit for a while, a cup of lavender and chamomile tea—and then nothing. Not even a dream I recall.
How to cultivate the habit? That’s the question. I know about sleep hygiene (such a silly expression, if you ask me—which you didn’t) and try as I might, my monkey-mind usually takes over at bedtime. It finds stuff to think about which could easily come to the fore through the day, but which lies there waiting to ambush me once the light goes out. It’s not even as though I worry about stuff; I just don’t seem able to find the off-switch.
And of course that’s not all I am grateful for.
I love, love, love my weekly restorative yoga practice. I mentioned to the teacher, Laurina, (https://www.laurinakersten.com/) that it’s the only time of the week when I am still. I’m sure those of you who practise the practice will understand what I mean—unless you are one of those who can switch off. At the moment, in this glorious winter weather, we enter the little hall at Closeburn and find all the heaters on. We need the warmth as buildings here are built to keep people cool in the long hot summers. There we lie, relaxing in gentle stretching poses, listening to calming music and Laurina’s mellifluous voice reciting some of the poetry she brings. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is.
I am grateful I live here, in this little corner of SE Queensland, in this beautiful valley where we are surrounded by forest, bird-life, animals and like-minded people.
I am eternally grateful that I grew up in such a loving family in such happy surroundings and was given early instruction on what is right and what is wrong. I am grateful I grew up in one of the most gorgeous parts of England.
I am grateful for my good health. There have been a few minor hiccups/hiccoughs along the way, but nothing which has stopped me from continuing to live the life I lead.
I am grateful that I am still able to work. I love to work. It fulfils me and my need to contribute, sounds a bit trite and self-promoting but I hope you understand. I know it keeps my mind active, as does doing crossword puzzles and those little word games in the daily paper. I have yet to embark on sudoku—it’s numbers, you see, not words…
I am grateful for my dog, Zac. He, as everyone’s well-treated and loved dog does, gives me unconditional love. He is a constant companion—in two senses of the word and he ensures that I walk daily. He is soft, gentle and loving; not a nasty bitey bone in his body. He has (touch wood) maintained good health apart from a bit of arthritis in his old age; I can relate to that. He’s twelve now.
Then there are my friends. I am lucky enough to have many. Some I see only irregularly, some only when I travel overseas to see family and friends, some I see much more often. Friends slot into different groups: some are from the book club to which I belong and which has been going for nearly 35 years, some are from the writers’ group; some from the writing group; some are local, some live in distant places. Some are blood relatives, some not, some are younger than I am, some older, some mere kids! I can’t think of one of my friends who is not generous with their time, their love and their support.
Earlier this year I started a daily gratitude journey where I noted something for which I was grateful and put the notes into a jar. But then I stopped. It seemed forced and phony. When I am grateful for something I prefer to think it then and there, and as in this case, to share it with everyone who might read it. I am unsure if I will open the jar again and re-read all the notes. I doubt it. I might use them to start the fire in the evenings—another thing for which I am grateful.
I am grateful to live here in Australia, in a democracy, where we can state what we want without fear of state-sanctioned retribution. I know I can rabbit on about what I feel on social media—and I have done. Sometimes the responses make me laugh out loud, but my friends know where I stand re politicians, the law and government. I feel safe, I feel (mostly) well-governed—and when I don’t feel well-governed any more, I trust my vote counts.
I have dealt with some awful things and I have come through. I am grateful that I have had the strength and the help of professionals to enable me to do so.
And then there’s my family both here in Australia and in England. I am not going to list all the qualities of each one here—you know who you are and that I love you. Suffice to say that I am blessed.